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South Korea plans to withdraw printed textbooks from schools by 2015

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July 4, 2011

South Korea plans to digitize all textbooks which are in use by Korean schools by 2015 (Im...

South Korea plans to digitize all textbooks which are in use by Korean schools by 2015 (Image: San Jose Library via Flickr)

The South Korean ministry of education has announced a ground-breaking plan to digitize all textbooks which are in use in Korean schools and thus completely phase out printed materials by 2015. This opens a huge market for manufacturers of tablet PCs, laptops and smartphones as the Korean education ministry has revealed it will spend US$2.4 billion on buying appropriate devices and digitizing content for them.

The Korean government's "Smart Education" scheme will see the creation of a cloud computing network in order to allow students to access digital textbooks and store their homework so it can be accessed via any internet-connected device, including tablets, smartphones, PCs and smart TVs. The plan also includes introducing more online classes from 2013 so that students who are sick or unable to attend school due to weather conditions will be able to participate in virtual classes.

The ministry plans to digitize all primary school textbooks by 2014 and all mid and high school textbooks by the following year. Both, digital and printed textbooks, will be in use during the transition period and nationwide academic tests will also be held online. As part of the shift to digital, all schools will have wireless Internet access points set up by 2015 and the ministry will provide free tablet PCs to low-income families.

Korean officials quote the latest OECD report into digital literacy, that aimed to test how 15 year olds from different countries use computers and the internet to learn. The report found that Korean teenagers came out on top compared to students in 19 countries.

"That's why Korean students, who are already fully prepared for digital society, need a paradigm shift in education," the ministry official said in the JoongAng Daily newspaper.

Certainly, such a policy will provide a significant boost to the IT sector in South Korea and the ministry points out that digital textbooks will be cheaper than printed versions.

Source: JakartaGlobe

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7 Comments

I said they should do this 20 years ago when I was in school.. Why do people still have printed information....

Michael Mantion
4th July, 2011 @ 08:28 pm PDT

Though I have not read the life-cycle assessment for digital e-readers (which I assume is among the lowest impact of Korea's portable devices), this digitization is really cool! I wish I had this, even in some university courses.

Rawle Roopchand
4th July, 2011 @ 09:24 pm PDT

Wow, this is REALLY groundbreaking! I was thinking about this for a long time and wondered why hasn't this been implemented yet. On a sidenote - CME from our beloved star might mess up their whole infrastructure, including education. So a contingency plan is a must.))

Renārs Grebežs
5th July, 2011 @ 12:24 am PDT

This idea could mean that students will not be reading old and obsolete materials. It could mean that student networks will create new ways of working together and completing projects...and that these projects might be more than homework. The projects could help solve real-world problems. Korean children could be working to improve their society and culture. It is great to see countries take good ideas and run with them.

Carlos Grados
5th July, 2011 @ 08:11 am PDT

In my country (USA), if this idea was proposed the politicians would start screaming "Give tablets to low-income families! This is just the lazy poor stealing from the productive rich! We can't afford 2.4 billion! Our debt is too high! We have to lower taxes for the productive rich and cut back on social spending! This is a plan by the teachers' unions to syphon money to themselves! They indoctrinate our children! Virtual classes? Let those sick kids get off their lazy behinds and get to school! And health care for those kids isn't a right!" Etc., etc.

We've forgotten about investing for the future or that the success of the economy (and lower crime rates, greater tax revenue, lower drug use, etc.) depends on a well-educated (and healthy) populace that can attract (or start) high-tech companies. This is why our country has significantly lost its lead in education.

Michael Mantion, 20 years ago? I graduated high school in 1990 and there was no way to replace textbooks with an electronic equivalent then, as no equivalent existed. Atari and Commodore computers hadn't even disappeared yet! DOS was all the rage, and Windows 3.1 didn't even debut until 1992. I just found this on a computer timetable for February 1990: "Toshiba announces the T1000XE portable computer. It features 2 MB RAM, and 20 MB hard drive. Weight is 6.2 pounds, price is US$2699. " From March 1990: "Sharp Electronics introduces the PC-6220 notebook computer. It weighs less than four pounds, and features a 12 MHz 80C286 processor, 2.5-inch 20 MB hard drive, B/W backlit triple supertwist 8x6-inch LCD VGA 640x480 resolution screen, 1 MB RAM (expandable to 3 MB), and a socket for a 80C287 math coprocessor. Price is about US$4000. " Sorry, that wasn't going to cut it. :-)

alcalde
5th July, 2011 @ 10:23 am PDT

Aw this isn't fair :-/ I'm graduating in 2015, and I live in the US.

sara2816
5th July, 2011 @ 11:45 am PDT

When the library at Alexandria burned, a wealth of knowledge was lost.

Doing away with print and relying on digital technology is dangerous. We might as well hand a kid a match...

Terri Mason
7th July, 2011 @ 08:42 am PDT
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